Daily brief: Petraeus reportedly “frustrated” with Karzai’s call to end night raids

Mixed messages Afghan President Hamid Karzai gave an interview to the Washington Post over the weekend in which he called for the reduction in military operations in Afghanistan and the end of night raids (Post). Excerpts of the interview are here (Post). NATO officials said Karzai’s remarks frustrated Gen. David Petraeus, top commander in Afghanistan, ...

STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images
STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images
STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images

Mixed messages

Afghan President Hamid Karzai gave an interview to the Washington Post over the weekend in which he called for the reduction in military operations in Afghanistan and the end of night raids (Post). Excerpts of the interview are here (Post). NATO officials said Karzai's remarks frustrated Gen. David Petraeus, top commander in Afghanistan, and that NATO had received assurances that Karzai was on board with the coalition's strategy (AP, AFP). Karzai's spokesman said the comments were a sign of a "maturing partnership" (Post).

At the NATO summit in Lisbon at the end of this week, the Obama administration will reportedly present a plan to begin transferring control of certain areas of Afghanistan to Afghan security forces over the next 18 to 24 months, with the aim of keeping U.S. combat forces there until 2014, a date originally set by Karzai (NYT, Post). By the end of 2014, though combat forces could be withdrawn if conditions permit, "tens of thousands" will likely remain in training roles (NYT). Obama administration envoy to the region Amb. Richard Holbrooke said, "From Lisbon on, we will be on a transition strategy with a target date of the end of 2014 for Afghanistan taking over responsibility for leading the security" (Reuters).

Mixed messages

Afghan President Hamid Karzai gave an interview to the Washington Post over the weekend in which he called for the reduction in military operations in Afghanistan and the end of night raids (Post). Excerpts of the interview are here (Post). NATO officials said Karzai’s remarks frustrated Gen. David Petraeus, top commander in Afghanistan, and that NATO had received assurances that Karzai was on board with the coalition’s strategy (AP, AFP). Karzai’s spokesman said the comments were a sign of a "maturing partnership" (Post).

At the NATO summit in Lisbon at the end of this week, the Obama administration will reportedly present a plan to begin transferring control of certain areas of Afghanistan to Afghan security forces over the next 18 to 24 months, with the aim of keeping U.S. combat forces there until 2014, a date originally set by Karzai (NYT, Post). By the end of 2014, though combat forces could be withdrawn if conditions permit, "tens of thousands" will likely remain in training roles (NYT). Obama administration envoy to the region Amb. Richard Holbrooke said, "From Lisbon on, we will be on a transition strategy with a target date of the end of 2014 for Afghanistan taking over responsibility for leading the security" (Reuters).

Gen. Petraeus is reportedly upping efforts to increase Afghan police forces drawn from local villages in southern Afghanistan, with the help of former mujahideen commanders to aid the recruiting efforts (NYT). NATO commanders hope to raise at least 30,000 local officers in the next six months. The Obama administration is also seeking to halt the flow of ammonium nitrate, the main ingredient in roadside bombs in Afghanistan, into the country, though is facing trouble from Pakistan, "where the police routinely wave tons of ammonium nitrate shipments across the border into Afghanistan despite that country’s ban on imports of the chemical" (NYT).

McClatchy has a series of articles about contracting in Afghanistan, reporting on nearly $4.5 billion worth of contracts that have been awarded to companies with checkered histories including alleged violations of the law and disputes over previous projects (McClatchy); a police station in northern Afghanistan left half-finished by the Afghan construction company hired by the U.S. to complete it (McClatchy); and findings that nearly $200 million of Army Corps of Engineers projects since January 2008 have "failed, face serious delays, or resulted in subpar work" (McClatchy).

The battle roars on

On Saturday, a pre-dawn Taliban attack on an observation post on the edge of the NATO airbase in the eastern Afghan city Jalalabad sparked fighting which left eight of the attackers — many of whom were said to be wearing Afghan National Army uniforms — dead (AJE, LAT, AFP, AP, Reuters). Several hours later in Kunduz, 10 people including three children were reportedly killed when a motorcycle bomb detonated on a busy street in Imam Sahib. On Sunday, two civilians were killed when explosives on a hand-cart in Jalalabad detonated, three Afghan police officers died when their vehicle hit a Taliban roadside bomb in Tarin Kot, Uruzgan, two civilians were killed by a bomb on a motorcycle in Spin Boldak, Kandahar, and five coalition soldiers died in attacks in eastern and southern Afghanistan (Pajhwok, AFP, Pajhwok, AP).

In Kandahar, U.S. forces are reportedly turning to the ‘build’ phase of military operations, after two months of offensives in the districts of Arghandab, Zhari and Panjwayi (AFP). In the north, more than 200 Taliban fighters surrendered to Afghan security forces (Tolo). The Telegraph reports that the Karzai government’s 68-member High Peace Council has proposed that some Taliban members currently held at Guantanamo be released to take part in negotiations (Tel). The U.S. does not see reconciliation efforts as related to Guantanamo. Taliban leader Mullah Omar dismissed reports of peace talks, calling them "misleading rumors" (AFP, AP).

Between one and two dozen Afghan parliamentary candidates who were declared winners will likely be unseated by a panel charged with investigating fraud and misconduct, which will report its findings to officials later this week (AP). Some 2,500 candidates competed for the 249 seats in the September 18 contest.

The LA Times reports on Iran’s influence in the western province of Herat (LAT). And the AP considers tensions between archaeologists excavating a 2,600 year old find in central Afghanistan and the Chinese company eager to mine the unexploited copper deposits below the ruins at Mes Aynak (AP).

Back at home

Abdul Khaliq Farahi, Afghanistan’s ambassador-designate who was kidnapped at gunpoint in September 2008 in Peshawar, was released in Khost over the weekend and is with his family in Kabul (AJE, AP, NYT, Tolo, Pajhwok). Near Peshawar earlier today, a bomb exploded near the home of an anti-Taliban tribal elder who was killed in a suicide attack last year, killing two (AP).

A handful of alleged militants were said to be killed in this year’s 100th reported U.S. drone strike in northwest Pakistan on Saturday, outside the main town in the tribal agency of North Waziristan (CNN, AFP, AP, Geo). In neighboring South Waziristan, two people were killed and nine injured in a suicide attack on a market in Shakai on Sunday (Geo, AFP, Daily Times, ET). The target was reportedly the head of a local peace committee, who survived, though another member was killed. Further north in the tribal regions, at least seven suspected militants were killed and 120 arrested in the Swat Valley, where the Pakistani government is still struggling to rebuild after the spring 2009 military offensive (ET, AP, NYT). Bonus click: PakistanSurvey.org, inside Pakistan’s tribal areas.

And Sebastian Rotella has a pair of must-reads about 2008’s deadly terrorist attacks in Mumbai, following the trail of Lashkar-e-Taiba plotter Sajid Mir, who mentored David Coleman Headley (Post, Post).

Broadcast news

A provincial reconstruction team arranged a day-long workshop for Afghan journalists in central Parwan, covering topics from blogging to filing stories (Pajhwok). A journalist from Panjshir called all the topics "old," though a correspondent from Parwan said it was the first time she learned how to create a Facebook account.

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